On December 27, 2016, Carrie Fisher left us. She was an icon of fandom, film-making, and humor. Her out-of-nowhere death shocked all of us. We had lost our Princess and our General.
While other media (cough, cough… I’m looking at you Uncle Walt) presented helpless princesses who waited to be rescued, she presented a rare positive female role-model: determined, strong, tenacious and definitely not waiting to be rescued.
When I was a kid I never foresaw, or imagined play scenarios, where Leia was a military leader after the destruction of the second Death Star. In my universe, the New Republic was the victor and there was no continuing large-scale conflict, other than skirmishes and limited engagements. In my play, Leia was the president (at least pro-tempore) of the New Republic. It would have made sense for Mon Mothma to be president and she is president in the expanded universe, if I’m not mistaken. However, they didn’t produce a Mon Mothma action figure when I was 10 years old [not until the mid-90’s during the Power of the Force line]. In her place, Leia seemed like the natural choice. I just assumed she would become a civilian politician again as she’d been in the Galactic Senate before the war.
Han certainly had no political ambitions. Could you imagine how bored he’d be with senate debate? Luke would be off doing his Jedi thing: training new Jedi or looking for some mystical whatever…yada, yada (that part I kinda got right); so that left Leia to be leader. I didn’t think of it as any kind feminist move. It simply made sense. I guess growing up in the 80’s with the likes of Margaret Thatcher leading nations, along with the fact that my mom a very strong and independent individual; I just didn’t think twice about a female leader. Leia was, and I believe still is, a great role model for girls and young women to follow. Let’s face it, she’s a great model for ANYBODY, female or male, to follow.
It wasn’t just Princess Leia either. Carrie Fisher, the person, was just as badass as the rebel princess she portrayed onscreen. Writer and humorist, script doctor, and humanitarian. She was a tireless crusader for removing the stigma of mental illness and was very open about her own struggles with depression and mental illness. If anything, the character was modeled more on the actress. She embodied all of those qualities that we loved about Leia.
I went to the Lightsaber vigil at the Alamo. It was awesome to see so many show up to honor Carrie Fisher. I really felt honored to be part of it, even in my very small role of holding a lightsaber aloft along with a lot of other fans.
Here’s to you, Carrie Fisher. The only royalty to whom I would bow.